Upcoming Twitch livestream about AI company’s research on StarCraft 2

This Thursday, at 6pm GMT, Blizzard is going to be hosting a very special StarCraft 2 Twitch stream – one in collaboration with DeepMind. DeepMind is a neuroscience-inspired AI company. They were founded in 2010 and have since published hundreds of peer-reviewed papers – their goal is to combine the flexibility of a tech start-up with scientific thinking; quite a tall order.

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© DeepMind

Why should this matter to you? Well, because DeepMind has been working with Blizzard for quite some time now. In 2017, the companies published a set of open-source tools focused on machine learning – included was the largest set of anonymised game replays ever released at once.

As for why they are suddenly relevant now – the AI company is looking at StarCraft to further their research and developments. Even after over 15 years, StarCraft is considered one of the best and most difficult RTS games ever developed. DeepMind isn’t the first company to take an interest – researchers have been attending SC competitions for years.

There are several reasons the game is of so much interest for researchers – among them is the fact that there is no single best strategy to win. While some games have, at least in general, a few strategies that almost always lead to victory, this is not the case here. AIs are supposed to learn and adapt as circumstances change, and SC is the ideal environment for this. The game requires long-term planning as well – rather than just making the best decision ‘now’, players need to be able to think ahead and decide what will be best a little down the line. This, too, is a key skill for AIs if they are to be used in, for example, medical environments.

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© Blizzard Entertainment

Another big factor is the scale of it all – in real time, a huge action space involving hundreds of units and buildings need to be controlled at once, while there is also a cause-effect system in play; upgrading thing A allows for action B and so on. All of this and more is why researchers like DeepMind have taken such a keen interest in the game.

In the livestream on Thursday, representatives from both DeepMind and Blizzard are going to be discussing the amazing progress their combined research has made over the last year or so. If you are interested (and you definitely should be!) you can find more details on the official StarCraft blog, and you can watch the 2-hour long stream both on DeepMind’s YouTube page and, of course, the official StarCraft Twitch channel!